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TF North Drama Team wins state championship

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First Place in Group Interpretation, second in Musical Theatre Review, ninth in Contest Play

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (March 24, 2024) – Boundaries. Teamwork. Trust. Family. These are not words normally associated with high school theatre. But according to members of the TF North Competition Drama Team, that’s what makes their troupe successful. On Sunday, March 24, the team came home with a state championship in Group Interpretation, second place in Musical Theatre Review, and within top ten in Drama (Contest Play).

The state championship is the first won by TF North in any competition.

From family drama to drama family

“When you first get in high school, you need a family,” says Junior John McBeth III, Drama Club president. “You need something to help you get through the years.”

TF North Junior John McBeth III is president of the Drama Club. He joined as a freshman and helped the team improve its performance year after year. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

McBeth had no experience with theatre prior to TF North. His younger years were spent moving around, but he didn’t realize how disconnected he was until Drama Club gave him a sense of belonging and purpose. “It was really needed,” he says. “Really needed. It really got me through school.”

Theatre has taught him boundaries, McBeth says. Boundaries between who he is and who he is not. The act of playing someone else forces him to know himself and helps him define his own personality and values.

Today he’s a leader on the team and in the school. His responsibilities as president include mentoring younger members and helping them keep their grades up so they can stay on the team.

“Working together and trusting each other”

Freshman Ikeoluwani Apata also had no interest in theatre before arriving at TF North. But at an Activity Fair designed to introduce students to the extracurriculars available, she approached the Theatre Department table, and they won her over. “They just welcomed me with such a warm energy,” she remembers.

That warmth underlies the teamwork that Apata says became a defining characteristic of the Theatre Department’s competition season. “If one person is, like, focused on their individual self or just focused on what they do in a particular scene or something, it’s never gonna work out,” she explains. “We all have to come together and work together to create such a beautiful moment, beautiful pieces, beautiful pictures.”

Freshman Ikeoluwani Apata is one of the young up-and-comers in the TF North Theatre Department. She says teamwork and trust are key to success. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

“I learned a lot about working together and trusting each other,” says Apata. She earned trust too, taking on the protagonist role in the Group Interpretation performance that brought the championship trophy home. In fact, Apata was also a lead in the Contest Play, and she was one of a six-member team who performed in the Musical Theatre Review category.

TF North Drama Coach Sadé May looks for team members who demonstrate commitment. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

A coach who cares

The Drama Team consists of students and musicians coached by Ms. Sadé May, as well as a crew of 12 that does set-up and take-down for the Contest Play. May invests long hours in her students and in the program.

She says TF North is the only school in the state competition whose team members all participate in all three categories of competition — Group Interpretation, Contest Play, and Musical Theatre Review — as listed below:

Group Interpretation actors

  1. Zaria Jacobs
  2. Dionna Gunn
  3. Amonis Overstreet
  4. John McBeth III (lead, narrator, “Griot”)
  5. Tianna Bowen (lead, “Empress Meekah)
  6. Ikeoluwani Apata (lead, protagonist, “Demi”)
  7. Chikanyima Anene
  8. Kamsiyochi Anene
  9. Kierha Lloyd
  10. Kiera Gould
  11. Keniyah Stephenson
  12. Quentin Hall
  13. Jamareon Mann (lead, antagonist, “King Taiwo”)

Group Interpretation musicians

  1. Shekinah Ogedegbe
  2. Tamilore Ogundeyi
  3. Moyo Oluwole (senior lead musician)
The Group Interpretation competition involves performing a 30-minute piece. Most teams choose a piece that is adapted from an existing work (such as a book, movie, or TV show). The TF North team chose to perform an original work based on West African mythology. The rules of Group Interp do not allow props, sets, costumes, or special lighting; the team is judged solely on their performance. (Photo: Sadé May)

Contest Play actors

  1. Ikeoluwani Apata
  2. John McBeth III
  3. Amonis Overstreet
  4. Jamareon Mann
  5. Keniyah Stephenson
From left: TF North students Keniyah Stephenson, Amonis Overstreet, John McBeth III, Ikeoluwani Apata, and Jamareon Mann competed in the Contest Play category at state. (Photo: Sadé May)

Contest Play crew

  1. Janay Dowd
  2. Regina Lacey-Smith
  3. Rogelio Romero
  4. Dominik Rodriguez
  5. Jorge Zavala
  6. Dia Jennings
  7. Alex Finley
  8. Alexis Andrews
  9. Zairayt García
  10. Chanel Bell
  11. Serenity Howard
  12. Fernanda Fonseca
The Contest Play crew is responsible for set-up and take-down of the set for their team’s Contest Play. They have 20 minutes to complete the job. (Photo: Sadé May)

Musical Theatre Review team

  1. John McBeth III
  2. Amonis Overstreet
  3. Dionna Gunn
  4. Kierha Lloyd
  5. Ikeoluwani Apata
  6. Keniyah Stephenson
From left: TF North students John McBeth III, Amonis Overstreet, Dionna Gunn, Kierha Lloyd, Ikeoluwani Apata, and Keniyah Stephenson form the Musical Theatre Review team that won second place at state this year. (Photo: Sadé May)

Understanding the Theatre Department

TF North’s Theatre Department year includes a Fall Musical, a Competition Drama season, and a Spring Play. The Competition Drama Team membership is by invitation only, and Coach May looks for students who demonstrate a level of dedication that can withstand the long hours of practice required for competition.

Her team was a young one this year, with only one senior and a lot of first-time members. “I can’t believe that they just pulled off the championship!” laughs May. “They were rough in the beginning [of the year]. My couple kids who have done this for years were really stressed. They were like, ‘Gosh, everybody’s new!’ But we got them in shape.”

On March 15, the TF North Drama Team participated with 71 other schools — including TF South — in the IHSA Drama Sectionals. Both North and South had entries in Contest Play and Group Interpretation, and North entered in Musical Theatre Review as well.

From sectionals, TF North continued on to state in all three categories, and TF South continued in the Group Interpretation category.

TF North took the championship in the Group Interpretation competition, second place in Musical Theatre Review, and ninth in Drama (Contest Play). TF South’s results were not known at the time of this writing.

Thornton Fractional North High School is located at 755 Pulaski Road in Calumet City, Illinois.

Thornton Fractional North High School is located at 755 Pulaski Road in Calumet City, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

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Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.

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